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The Eagle In Native American Indian Art

The eagle has been a universal symbol of power respected by many cultures throughout the world. The bald eagle was chosen as the emblem of the United States of America because of its great strength, majestic looks, long life and also because it was then believed in the 18th century to exist only in North America. The eagle was used as the name for the first space craft to land on the moon and even the Chinese developed a martial arts style based on the eagle.

Why The Eagle Was Chosen By Native American Indians

The eagle is highly revered by many Native American Indian cultures which have special eagle dances, ceremonies and societies. Both bald eagles and golden eagles along with their feathers are considered sacred.

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It is said that the Creator chose the eagle as the master of the skies. Since eagles fly higher and see better than other birds, they are considered to be closer to the Creator than any other Earth creatures. The eagle is regarded as a messenger to the Creator. It has the honor of carrying the prayers of humans in the world of the Earth to the world of Spirit where the Creator resides. It is believed that if one saw an eagle while praying or participating in a ceremony, prayers would be answered. Wearing or holding an eagle feather would also cause the Creator to take immediate notice.

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Some Native American Indian tribes regard the wings of an eagle to be significant in representing the balance between a male and a female with each one dependent upon the strengths or abilities of the other.

Uses of Eagle Feathers by Native American Indians

In addition to feathers, eagle talons and skulls were also used in ceremonies and religious practices of many Native American Indian tribes. The feathers were so highly respected that if for any reason an eagle feather was dropped, certain tribes like the Cherokee made it a necessity to have it cleaned. The eagle feather was to be guarded until the proper cleansing ceremony was performed.

The Native American Plains Indians used the eagle's wing bones to make whistles they blew during certain dances. The Native American Pueblo Indians of the southwestern United States considered the golden eagle to be the war eagle and kept its molted feathers. Many Native American Indian tribes used eagle feathers on weapons and headdresses to symbolize victories and courage.

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Northwest Native American Indian Art Bald Eagle By Paul Joseph

Eagle feathers were awarded to Native American Indian braves, warriors and chiefs for acts of valor or bravery. Only those who won eagle feathers because of brave deeds as recognized by tribal councils were given the right to wear them either in a headdress, war bonnet or in their hair.

To lose an eagle feather would be a dishonor in the eyes of the tribe. Some of the older Native American Indian chiefs earned enough honors to wear a double-trailed bonnet that dragged the ground.

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Today, under both United States and Canadian laws, permits are required from official government conservation authorities to legally possess eagle feathers. Native American Indian groups with bald and golden eagle feathers must use them for traditional ceremonies or teaching purposes only.

The Eagle in Northwest Native American Indian Art and Tradition

Eagles inhabit the Pacific Northwest Coast region in great numbers and have special significance for the Northwest Native American Indian people who live there. The eagle is a symbol of power, leadership and prestige. It also represents wisdom since it flies high above the world giving it a broad perspective of everything. Its feathers or down represent peace and friendship. The feathers are used in many rituals and worn on masks, headdresses and aprons for dances. Eagle down was sprinkled before guests during welcome dances and other ceremonies. An eagle feather as a present is said to bring good luck to both the recipient and the giver. The eagle is a favorite subject in Northwest Native American Indian art.

Today, Native American artists, particularly those from the Pacific Northwest, make some very stunning carvings of eagles as well as other birds like thunderbirds and ravens. Just imagine having such a beautiful piece of artwork hanging in your home. See Northwest Native American art carvings or Northwest Native American art prints at very affordable online prices available at Free Spirit Gallery.

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